Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Technical Difficulties and PSA

November 4, 2008 Comments off

Wrapping up a few big projects at work and consulting; however, recent upgrades to both my home system and work have left me BlogJet-less.  Boot it up and POOF, unhandled exceptions galore.  It’s like the voting machines in Virginia today.

I’m still trying to find a way to get it working, but no joy so far and the stack of ideas and things to blog is adding up (and the WordPress web UI for posting is just painful for code).

So, hopefully I’ll find a spiffy new tool (or get BlogJet working) in the next few days…

Now, for the PSA:

GO VOTE.  Seriously.

Rolling SQL Server Error Logs WITHOUT Rebooting

April 17, 2008 1 comment

This is a bit in reverse as the code will be above the rant today. 😉

To roll SQL Server Error Logs, in 2000 and higher, a reboot isn’t necessary. 

Simply open up the Management Console (or Query Analyzer) and attach to the Master database.  From there, execute the built-in stored procedure ‘sp_cycle_errorlog’.

exec sp_cycle_errorlog

This will roll your current ERRORLOG file along, according to the configuration settings you’ve specified.  The current log will be renamed ERRORLOG.#.


We had a… discussion… earlier today between the department I work in and another regarding the virtues of uptime and keeping servers available. 

The paradigm is to reboot a server when something happens—no matter what.  Troubleshoot? Nah.  Diagnose?  No way.  Just kick it and pray it works.  Why?  Because that’s how Windows works.

Now, I agree with that 100%.  That is how Windows works.  I do that at home.  If my home computer starts being stupid, I’ll reboot it as a first step and go from there.

But, my home computer isn’t in a production environment with thousands of users (that I’m aware of).

There’s a big different there.



Categories: Microsoft, Politics, SQL, Standards

Pipe.Capacity == false || Pipe.ConnectionsTo(‘NetFlix’) > this

February 26, 2008 Comments off


A need came up today to test how Windows Server 2008 and some of our web apps handled.  Republishing apps is pretty easy given their portability with the Deployment Packages, but simply getting the server going was a pain.  Hardware shortage?  Nah.  Lack of a pipe—heck yeah.

The Pacific through a Straw

I wonder if I can claim any sort of overtime for 352 hours…

We’ve been having huge internet bandwidth issues lately at work—our 100 MB pipe feels like the Pacific Ocean through a straw.  I can usually deal with slow internet browsing (since most sites and services are blocked anyway), but when i need an ISO from Microsoft’s MSDN library, I usually need it right awayish.  *sigh*

The fix?

Last time, the following resolved the problem: remoting into my home computer, starting the download, waiting 5 minutes while it downloaded at 2.8–3.2MB/sec, calling home and asking REALLY nicely for someone to put a DVD in the drive, setting it to burn, driving home (1+ hour), getting DVD, eating lunch, driving back (1+ hour).

Unfortunately, it’s a bit late in the day now—I’ll just do my testing tomorrow.

And that’s acceptable as a “way of doing business.” 😦  It could drive a person crazy.  Honestly, while the field trip opportunity is nice, I’d rather things just worked here.



MOSS 2007 and Wishing I Was “In the Know”

January 17, 2008 Comments off

A rant in the joys of communication and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 configuration.

It was determined that SSP (Shared Services Providers) would run internally on 8081.  We were told nothing ran on that port in our enterprise.  After FAR too much time (not going to say for sake of my ego) fiddling with why I couldn’t get the SSP services to work in MOSS 2007.

We were lied to like the step-children we are…

After finally just hitting the root of the URL (/ssp/admin/ is the default shortcut), I discovered one of our enterprise “monitoring” softwares had a web service running on that port… which means it’s running on that port on every server and desktop in our enterprise.  wtf.  Oh, and the people who were “in the know”… knew, but didn’t feel it was important or whatever to tell us.

So, now the joys of ripping the SSP out of MOSS and reconfigure it on a different port (and praying THAT one isn’t taken).


On a side note, I’ll have a new article posted up pretty soon.  The article goes into a bit of detail on setting on a small server farm with MOSS—everything from initial installation to setting up Active Directory profiles, search services, indexing, and updating to the latest Service Pack 1.  After the past week of dinking with this, I now see why Bill English’s MOSS 2007 Administrator’s Guide is 1155 pages and heavy enough to beat someone with.  Good book, by the way—just a bit difficult to follow as there’s no “order” to it.

[UPDATE: While out scraping ice off my car, I had an idea to help myself be more “in the know”.  I use TCPView quite often to see what processes are going where—well, TCPView shows the ports! Just do a bit of monitoring, see where different services are, and go for it.  The fancy alternative, of course, could be to setup Ethereal, set a filter for “tcp.port == {your port here}” and let it run for a day or so.]

A word of warning… your domain is your life!

January 14, 2008 Comments off

Thankfully, our domain names and registrations don’t fall under my “responsibilities,” so I’m still employed.  Others may not be so lucky by the end of the day.

I noticed early this morning—I couldn’t access OWA (Outlook Web Access).  After 10–15 minutes of 404 errors, I gave up and came into work.  When I got into the office, it appeared that all external services were down.  Our public web presence, Lyris server, all external applications facing our customers, VPN services, the works.

After three hours of watching people running around like headless chickens, the truth came out.

No one paid our domain renewal bill—our domain expired.  😀

I’m assuming that the problem is fixed by now and replication is taking it’s course—but the flood of customer complaints, city advocates calling wondering what’s going on and why we’re “for sale,” and the entire enterprise wondering why external email isn’t working is keeping our Customer Service department hopping.

So, a word of warning—when your registrar sends you the 30 day notice, don’t DELETE it. It’s important and your job SHOULD count on it.

Ahh, Happy Monday.

Opera Web Browser == Pornography?

January 7, 2008 4 comments

For part of the current “AJAXing” series, I had to reinstall Opera on my machine.  I’m pretty used to the Evil Stop Sign of Despair, but this really got me laughing… 


You cannot access the following Web address:

This site is blocked under the {company} filtering policy. If you believe this site has been blocked inappropriately, send a request for a site review to {email someone who cares}. In order for your request to be processed you must include the address of the site you would like reviewed, your name, and the educational application of the site in question. Please contact Customer Service at {number} if you have additional questions.


The site you requested is blocked under the following categories: Pornography


Now, our filter is supposed to evaluate files AND domains, so it should work.  In addition, come on, it’s Opera—they wouldn’t be hosting on porn sites.



So, Augemedia, who claims to be “Defying standards since 1989” and is the primary host for US downloads appears to be based out Germany; cool enough.

They have several projects going on…

  • Warring Factions – a MMO strategy game.  No problems there.
  • Bay Dream Templates – Template design for online auctions.  Neat.

And then the one that MAY just be why the filter caught it.

  • Kiss Chance – Adult Dating and Swinger Site.

😀  HA!  Yeah, that probably doesn’t make it through K-12 filtering, but what’s odd is that the “project” isn’t even hosted on the domain, but on it’s own domain.  What’s even more ironic is that going directly to that domain DOES get through the filter.  ROFL.

So, I tried three more downloads—and all three were blocked for pornography (I didn’t take the time to “look” at the sites).  I finally found downloaded it directly from the Opera Software link and it worked like a champ.

So, a note to the filtering experts out there—maybe a bit of due dilligence on where “bad” content is and where it REALLY is would be in order? 🙂

To Opera—what kind of “special payments” are you getting for hosting anyway?  Hah. 🙂


A change of pace at work…

December 5, 2007 2 comments

Rather than focus on creating custom solutions, we’re in the middle of a shift to SharePoint 2007–centric and external service providers as a means of application integration.  There are a few opportunities for custom development using MOSS as a platform; however, they’re few and far between right now.

These various transitions have dragged me away from my usual job of “creator of things that do stuff” and focused more on product evaluations, implementation strategies, project management, and systems architecture.  I enjoy these activities, but I miss geeky programming and find myself “sneaking” opportunites to code something up at work and spending a lot more time at home working on projects and such.  Lame, yes, I know.

Some of this is self-inflicted through my recent graduation and past work history (and success history)—as my superiors are trying to find more “high level” projects and goals for me to work towards.  I really appreciate those opportunities. 

It has, however, left me wondering.  Outside of giants like Microsoft where you can manager and a developer {or insert passion here}, is it possible to climb the corporate latter and retain some of your developer bits? 

I’m trying not work myself out of a job (I like my work environment and, most days, the people I work with), but I’m not sure I want to just push paper around all day if that’s what it means to “progress”—I love coding, designing, and creating “things that do stuff” too much to give it up cold turkey. 😀


Internet Explorer Team removing “Click to Activate”

November 10, 2007 Comments off

Back in April 2006, the IE team added an measure to ActiveX controls loaded in Internet Explorer after losing their lawsuite to Eolas (another interesting editoral from 2005).  It was subtile, but required you to CLICK the control to activate it.  Many users, not seeing the text informing them what to do, simply thought that they were lagging out and clicking twice, instead of once, fixed it.  The April 2006 update found its way into our SUS updaters and wasn’t caught—driving our Customer Service department absolutely mad for the following weeks.  Good times all around.

So, two years later, it appears the team is backing the change out by finally purchasing licensing from Eolas.  Whether right or wrong in this case (I actually side with Microsoft and the evidence from W3C on this one… but meh), it’s absolutely insane that this took two years of frustrated consumers “clicking to activate” their embeded QuickTime movies, Flash movies on YouTube, and even controls built on web pages.

Timeline?  Looks like the first preview release (e.g. public beta) will be released in December 2007 with another pre-release included in Vista SP1 and XP SP3.  The final patch won’t be until the two year anniversary of the change—April 2008.  How slowly the cogs turn…

The IE Team has posted up the background here:

Big Brother is Watching Me Surf

October 25, 2007 5 comments

I was mid-read of Matt Berseth’s blog this morning and was greeted with our filter’s cheerful message:

You cannot access the following Web address:

This site is blocked under the filtering policy. If you believe this site has been blocked inappropriately, send a request for a site review to {email removed}. In order for your request to be processed you must include the address of the site you would like reviewed, your name, and the educational application of the site in question. Please contact your site STS or Customer Service at {phone removed} if you have additional questions.

The site you requested is blocked under the following categories: Malicious Sites

So, I contacted with a serious WTF question.  Lately, more and more blogs, forums, and community sites—which are key resources to modern developers—have been blocked. 

The answer I got: Send in a formal request, it will be reviewed by the curriculum department to ensure it’s safe for children.  If it’s not, then it will remain blocked.  Coding sites are considered malicious because they teach potential hacking skills to children that could endanger the stability of network systems.


I haven’t even responded yet.  I don’t have anything nice to say that will keep me employed.  And, for now, I don’t have to worry… because THIS blog (my blog) is blocked too… tomorrow, maybe Google will be blocked because we don’t want children to find anything “bad”.

Thankfully, I can still RDP into my home computer and WORK.

Note: I’m not saying Internet filtering and such are bad; but due dilligence of staff/parents/etc. should make up for some of that—and educating children what they should and shouldn’t access will make it less taboo.  Oh, and separate filtering policies for the MIS Department and the kindergarteners, kthx.

[Update 12:45pm: I now have an ‘understanding’ of the full process.  An email to a monitored address, a response, a form to fill out, a few committee or individual, a response with further questions, an email back, and finally it’s opened up.  I’m tempted for two things: a) just continue RDPing out because that process took almost 1.5 hours, b) send in 100+ of them at one time.  And yes, my blog is still blocked—RDPing home to post.]

Technology is a tool for education, not a replacement

August 13, 2007 1 comment


It’s a constant battle to fend off those who want to use technology as either a replacement or implementer of policy.  Technology is awesome—and those of us who are programmers are at a point in time when we can do almost anything we can imagine to empower people; however, many forget the EMPOWER part.

Technology is a tool used to augment a human’s value.  In the classroom, technology allows teachers to better instruct students, better assess their progress and redirect where necessary, and better communicate with parents—but it is not a replacement for a competent, well-educated teacher.  If we want computers teaching our kids, why would we need teachers?  Because they add value—they can apply human emotions, understanding, and life experiences to educating our youth.

Unfortunately, many try to use technology to ‘fix’ everything—assess the students a few more times, rework the results until the results demonstrate what we want, and then repeat.  If something isn’t right, the common answer, lately it seems, is to use technology to fix it, not the teacher.  Teachers are left out of the picture (and many seem to want it that way—it’s less work) and place the students in front of a computer for assessment.  The computer then prescribes (ala prescriptive teaching) what the student should learn and everyone goes about their business.  A teacher who steps up and “prescribes” something different with a gut feeling or understanding of the student, they are simply told that they are wrong.

If a teacher cannot teach, but is simply a facilitator of prescribed curriculum, then what value do they add and why should parents send their children to school when they could receive the same education (sub the social effects) using the new “online” schools?

The only real reason I have continued my education is for the educators—the teachers that I’ve met over the years.  I honestly can’t say that I’ve been affected by a book I’ve read or a lesson taught out of a manual, but I can attest that the personalities, the humor, the life experiences of some of my teachers and their passion for teaching will forever live with me. 

To me, to go through nearly 20 years of school with a drone reading a lesson plan and not providing any human value, would be a horrid, horrid experience.  I pity today’s children who are locked in this psychological box.


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Categories: Education, Politics, Standards